Why I Gave Up On Diets

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My experiment with paleo caused a few of those ghosts to come back which was a shock on several levels. I thought I'd shut the door on this kind of disordered eating. Hell, I'm a grown woman writing a blog about this for crying out loud. I'm over it...aren't I?

The truth is, no, I wasn't. I can't blame the founders of paleo for this, and it'd be ridiculous to start pointing fingers. It was a trigger that I guess I was primed for at that particular moment. All of that emphasis on food and diet was like an overload on my system.

Following a diet switches on my obsessive compulsion and then turns the knob to max. I'd read articles where people would claim how paleo was the easiest diet to follow and it didn't require a whole lot of thought to maintain. I always found that so confusing because for me it was far from easy.

I said earlier how I felt great physically and had more energy. A lot of that energy went towards stressing out over what my next meal was going to be. I became obsessed with the black and white nature of the "rules" and what I was allowed to eat. I started feeling panic or anxiety if I was invited to go out and I couldn't find something to eat that was paleo. Food was always on my mind, especially while writing a blog centered on food and health.

What forced me to realize that something was off were several comments made from close friends. The comments were lighthearted initially and I'd reassure them that everything was all right and that I was happy with the change. After some time their patience faded and one friend told me outright that she thought this was becoming an unhealthy obsession and she was worried. It felt like I'd been gutted. I was upset at being confronted so directly and for something that I didn't agree with, but I realized that was all bullshit because really I was just embarrassed, and moreover terrified.

What I was doing secretly and hadn't told anyone at that point was that I started binge eating again. And really, it's less about what you're eating, and more the behavior that gets to you. It's the sneakiness of the act and the shame associated with it that made me just want to ignore what was going on. Once my friends stepped in, I couldn't avoid it anymore. Everything crumbled. I sat there and cried, completely torn apart because I realized that she was right. This was wrong. I'd known it all along but I had reverted to old patterns and ignored it because I didn't want to deal with the fact that I was back there again.

And that was where I broke. I took some time off from the blog and walked away from this world for a little while because I needed to figure out what I was going to do to put myself back together. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that I dieted for the wrong reason. It was never about me. It was always about correcting that distorted reflection at whatever cost.

With meditation and my affirmation-based life coaching programs, I've made a concerted effort to take those biases down piece by piece. More importantly, I had to learn to forgive myself, a priority I've devoted myself to entirely. I still believe in clean eating and there are many foods that I don't eat because I'm striving to keep my healthy lifestyle intact for a long time. You'll find me posting recipes that cater to paleo, gluten-free, vegan, or vegetarian simply because I don't find fault with experimenting with different diets to try and find delicious recipes that are wholesome and nutritious. The difference now is that I'm not choosing to obsess over just one path.

Maribel Marmol Post-It
Image: Maribel Marmol

Yes, there are times when I second-guess what I ordered at a restaurant or experience regret hours after I've eaten my meal. I don't expect that to go away anytime soon. But each time I begin to experience that anxiety with food, I stop and breathe. I write it down if I can. I keep affirmations on my phone. I talk about it with a friend. I let the anxiety out so that I don't have to hide behind anything or pretend.

All of this is to reinforce what I've said from the beginning: There is no single plan that works for everyone. I've met plenty of people who are on a paleo diet and loving life. And the same goes for other diet plans. But you have to listen to yourself to decide what works for you. You want to lose weight? Awesome. Only why? Get honest with yourself about what your intentions and priorities are before you dive headfirst into a major lifestyle change. Stay true to what makes you unique and don't settle for anything less.

Have a similar story you want to share? Drop me a line and let me know. Keep paying it forward, now and always.

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